After arriving in Busan last Wednesday evening on basically no sleep, I somehow still managed to be up bright and early on Thursday morning to get ready for my first day of training at my new job! I rode to school with Jane, and spent the day observing Renee’s (the teacher I replaced) classes and meeting my new students and co-workers.
I quickly discovered just how lively the school is! Though the kids may be small, they have quite the lungs on them! Needless to say, I don’t think there will ever be a dull moment at JM (or at least never a moment of silence!)
I spent Thursday and Friday learning all about what I’ve gotten myself into for the next year! I’m happy to report that I think I made a pretty good decision, and I think I’ll be quite happy here! JM is a fairly small English school, with only about 70 current students. I have 3 Korean co-workers and one other foreign co-worker from the States who are all very nice and extremely helpful! If they aren’t helping me with lesson plans or giving me activities to do with my classes, they’re showing me around the neighbourhood or suggesting interesting tourist places for me to check out around Busan. Often, they even bring treats to school to share with me!! I don’t think I could ask for a better group of co-workers, especially when starting a brand new job in a foreign country!
I start work at 10 every morning, and work until 6 p.m. on Mon, Wed, Fri, and only 4 p.m. on Tue and Thurs! I read at least one book to the kids every morning, and teach mostly phonics, math, and different components of English like sentence and paragraph writing, comprehension and vocabulary. Most of my classes use workbooks that have all the lessons in them for each subject, so I don’t actually have much planning to do! However, I have a bit more freedom with subjects like Art and Music, so I can come up with my own lesson plans or activities for those classes if I choose to, which is kind of nice!
After my first week of teaching, I am slowly settling into my role, and starting to figure out my schedule a bit more.
I’m starting to know which classroom I should be in, and which books the students use for each class. I think I even know almost all of my students’ names, which is a pretty big achievement for me! (I’m normally horrendous with names!) Regardless of how comfortable I may get and how routine my schedule may get, I have a feeling that every day of teaching here is going to be a brand new adventure! What more could I hope for?
In other news, I also moved into my new apartment on Sunday! I’m all unpacked now and settled into my very first home of my own! I guess moving all the way to Korea to live alone for the first time ever may have been a bit extreme, but I do love my place! It’s a small bachelor apartment, and is right around the corner from work, so I just have a quick walk to the school in the morning – very convenient! I’ve also put up about a million pictures on my walls, so I can feel close to home even while on the other side of the world!
And finally, here are some funny moments from my first week of teaching for your enjoyment:
During one of my orientation days last week, a few minutes after meeting me for the first time, one of my students asked me, “Are you Asian??” To which Renee replied, “Are you sure you can see clearly with your glasses? I think you need new ones!!!” The student, however, was apparently dead serious and wasn’t meaning for it to be a joke. Hahaha. This MUST mean I fit in here after all…..right?? 😉
While I was reading a story to one of the Kindergarten classes, one of the little girls who is probably about 3 in Canadian age (Korean children are always a year older because when you’re born here, you’re automatically one year old) walked over to me and started petting my face and feeling my skin for a few minutes as I continued to read. When I couldn’t ignore it anymore because it was making me laugh, I stopped and looked down at her. When she realized I had stopped reading, she gave me a big grin and giggled, as if she had been caught doing something she knows is strange. I couldn’t help but giggle too! It was probably the strangest, yet most adorable moment of the entire week!
Anytime I ask my students to teach me how to say a word or phrase in Korean, it almost always ends with me getting laughed at to varying degrees! They seem to think it’s the funniest thing ever to hear me try to speak Korean! I don’t blame them, though, because no matter how many times I try, I can’t seem to get it right. Unfortunately, this learning Korean thing isn’t quite as easy as I’d hoped! I do my best to make them laugh and want them to have fun at school, so if my worse-than-terrible Korean skills can do the trick, I’m willing to sacrifice myself for their enjoyment – at least for now! If my Korean ever improves, though, I’ll have to resort to finding some other form of comedy to make them happy. Phewf – good thing I’m covered for now! 😉